The families of Rosemont Middle School are dealing with the loss of a beloved teacher who passed away on Friday after paramedics transported him to the hospital.
“This is Dr. Livingston with some very sad news,” said Principal Cynthia Livingston as she shared the news with her Rosemont families in a phone call. “One of our teachers, Mr. Mark Sanderl, computer teacher, became ill at school on Friday. He was taken to the hospital, but he succumbed to his illness.”
Sanderl had suffered massive heart failure at about 1:45 p.m. He was transported from the school to Verdugo Hills Hospital where he passed away.
The school had counselors and psychologists at the school beginning Monday to help students cope with the loss. The teachers and staff are working together to help the kids and to support Sanderl’s computer class. Instead of bringing in a substitute teacher for his class, the teachers are taking their class preparation time to fill in. There are two teachers per class.
“[Sanderl’s death] has drawn us together like I have never seen before,” said Rosemont teacher Carla Riehl.
She has been at Rosemont for about 10 years and said this tragedy has brought the staff together as a family.
When the staff was told about their colleague’s death, there was shock and sadness but there was also concern for Sanderl’s family.
“Coach Robert Chappell stood up and said his wife has lost a husband and we can’t let her lose her house,” Riehl said.
The Sanderls had moved into their new home on Thursday. Chappell and the staff were sensitive to the family’s loss and all the costs they will be facing, including funeral expenses.
Chappell was joined by Jody Mottern and James Mustain in starting a gofundme page to financially help the family.
Sanderl was known to arrive very early at Rosemont and was there for any students who needed a little extra help in his class. Chappell, also an early riser, would meet with Sanderl every morning either in his classroom or Chappell’s.
“We would sit and talk about sports and family,” Chappell said.
Sanderl coached basketball at Crescenta Valley High School for a while, according to Chappell.
“That morning (Friday) [Sanderl told Chappell], ‘I [logged] over 20,000 steps and I am so tired,’” Chappell said.
Chappell added those mornings meant a lot to him. On one morning Chappell told Sanderl that a family member had a connection with George Lee “Sparky” Anderson, a Major League Baseball player and manager and an inductee in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Through this connection, Chappell was given a baseball signed by Sparky Anderson to give to his son.
“The next day Mark brought in a Sparky Anderson baseball card in a case and said this should go to my son for his collection,” Chappell said. “That was the type of person Mark was.”
He added that Sanderl would always be “in the moment” and listen to what was being said.
Riehl had her own story of how Sanderl would be there for others.
“He came in my classroom one day and said, ‘I heard you have a printer problem,’ and he came in to fix it,” she said.
She hadn’t asked him; he just found out she needed help and was there for her.
This was the spirit that the teachers at Rosemont want to pay forward with their gofundme page. They wanted to be there to help his family like he had been there for so many of them.
“We know how generous the Crescenta Valley community is,” Riehl added.
But donations to the gofundme page extend beyond CV as teachers from other schools have donated. However, it is the donations by students – past and present –that have touched the hearts of Riehl and Chappell. That is the legacy of teaching.
Sanderl’s father was a longtime history teacher at Rosemont and in fact was Chappell’s master teacher when he began his career.
“We want to let the family know how important he was to all of us,” Chappell said. “And you never know – maybe we can be an example to his son and when he grows up he will want to be a teacher. This is what teaching is all about.”
The fundraising goal is $75,000; however, the Rosemont teachers feel, and hope, the amount will grow beyond that. To donate to the family, visit www.gofundme.com/sanderlfamily.